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Late deflected Gabriel Martinelli goal gives Arsenal narrow victory over Manchester City

<i>Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images</i><br/>Gabriel Martinelli celebrates after scoring against Manchester City.
Adrian Dennis/AFP via Getty Images
Gabriel Martinelli celebrates after scoring against Manchester City.

By Ben Morse, CNN

(CNN) — A late deflected goal from Gabriel Martinelli gave Arsenal a potentially huge victory in the Premier League title race, beating Manchester City 1-0 on Sunday.

The Brazilian winger, who had come on as a substitute at halftime, saw his effort from the edge of the box take a touch off Man City defender Nathan Aké and past the diving Ederson, sparking wild celebrations.

Man City huffed and puffed, and struggled to break down a resolute Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium as it records its second defeat in a row.

“It feels great to be back and win a game like that. We know how tough it is to play against them,” Martinelli told the Premier League afterwards. “I was so excited to come in, I was waiting for this moment since I got injured.

“If you don’t shoot you don’t score. I always try to give space to myself because I know [Kyle] Walker is strong and quick; I trust myself and try to do my game. When you play for Arsenal you need to have the mentality to win every single game. This is our mentality and what we’re trying to do.”

The 86th minute goal was the decisive one, a victory which throws the Premier League title race wide open at an early stage.

After eight games of the 2023 season, Arsenal sits second in the table – tied at the top with North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur – while reigning champions Man City is third, two points behind the two early leaders.

The two teams have become fierce rivals recently, locking horns for last season’s Premier League title – Man City eventually outlasted Arsenal to claim its third title in a row – and there are plenty of connections between the two; Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta was once Man City’s assistant manager under Pep Guardiola.

And after successful beginnings to the new season, it looks like the same might be true again this time around.

Both have shown flaws in their squads in the early phases of their campaigns – Arsenal’s defensive leakiness at home and City’s lack of midfield presence with its star metronome, Rodri, missing.

And for 85 minutes in North London, the two teams effectively canceled each other out, with very few chances between them.

The biggest talking point up until the goal was how City’s Mateo Kovačić managed to avoid getting a red card after two challenges which could have easily resulted in an early bath.

However, the introduction of Martinelli in the place of Leandro Trossard at halftime sparked Arsenal’s attacking dynamism into life, tormenting the City defenders throughout.

And his deflected goal was the crowning moment of a complete performance for Arsenal, one which reemphasizes the team’s title aspirations and hands Man City successive league defeats.

“Tight game. We started really well with chances, two or three,” Guardiola told the Premier League afterwards.

“Second half they started really well and increased the rhythm. In the end it was a deflected goal, they won, congratulations Arsenal. For both sides there was not a lot of chances. It was tight and in one, action we lost the game.”

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